Pinterest's First Employees

The unconventional way Ben Silbermann found his first hires is one of the most interesting aspects of Pinterest’s early employees. Most entrepreneurs rely heavily on their own personal networks, focusing on a certain school or alumni group, e.g. Dropbox or Snapchat, or through traditional job outlets, such as social media or other sites. Ben found his first engineer at a meet-up — he liked the questions that Yash Nelapati asked the presenter. He found his first Community Manager in an early user, Enid Hwang, when she emailed him with tips on improving the site. He saw a blog post by a college freshman and was so impressed, he drove from Palo Alto to Berkeley to meet him, then hired him to build their first iOS app.

Ben kept his eyes peeled for good talent, even in channels not popularly used to recruit. This is in part because he had never really been part of the traditional startup networks. He worked at Google for seven years after graduation, before he quit to try his hand at startups. Since then, Pinterest’s growth has been slow and steady, with a very loyal user base, and one can’t help but think it has something to do with Ben’s persona. According to those who have interviewed him, Ben has been described as small in stature and soft-spoken, yet confident, with a Midwestern air of humility.

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Yash Nelapati
Founding Engineer
M.S. in Software Engineering, San Jose State. One year of startup experience. Ben was impressed with Nelapati 's questions at a meet-up, and hired him as his first engineer in Jan. 2010.
Sahil Lavingia
"Second Person On Board," Web & iOS
Dropped out of USC to join Pinterest as a designer in 2010. Hired when Ben noticed his blog posts and drove to Berkeley to meet the 18-year-old for coffee. Soon left to start his own company, Gumroad.
Marty Weiner
Founding Engineer
M.S. in Computer Engineering, UT Austin, '05. Worked for six years at Azul Systems before joining as second founding engineer in Jan. 2011. Now Reddit CTO.
Enid Hwang
Community Manager
B.A. in Communication Studies and Chinese, UCLA '09. Writer for a year and a half. Early Pinterest user and first non-technical hire in Mar. 2011 after emailing Silbermann tips for improving the site.
Ryan Probasco
Founding Engineer
B.S. in Computer Science, Utah State '04. Spent seven years as an engineer at Coalescent Integrated Business Systems, Novell, Entice Labs (CTO) and Lucid Chard. Joined as third engineer in July 2011.
Sarah Tavel
Product Manager
Philosophy, Harvard. VP at Bessemer Venture Partners before joining Pinterest in Apr. 2012. Started as a "utility player," then became the first Product Manager. Helped lead the company's Series C round.
Gabriel Trionfi
Head of Research
Ph.D. in Pyschology, Clark University. Former Offensive Lineman and theatre major. UX/Design researcher at Facebook then at Pinterest in Sept. 2012. Later, first Head of Research.